South Shore Track

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South Shore Track

Postby erie910 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:54 pm

I just watched a YouTube video of a South Shore run from Chicago to Shops, Michigan City. Between Gary and Michigan City, there are substantial stretches of what appears to have been double track at one time; it now is single track. I assume that this was done to save on track maintenance costs. Was it done before or after NICTD took over the line? How much of a scheduling hindrance are the long stretches of single track?

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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:13 am

erie910 wrote:I just watched a YouTube video of a South Shore run from Chicago to Shops, Michigan City. Between Gary and Michigan City, there are substantial stretches of what appears to have been double track at one time; it now is single track. I assume that this was done to save on track maintenance costs. Was it done before or after NICTD took over the line? How much of a scheduling hindrance are the long stretches of single track?

NICTD and the South Shore has not removed any double track in their 100 year plus history (except a passing siding in downtown Michigan City).

In most places the ROW is wide enough for a second track. There is a place where a team track was removed. But the progress of the South Shore has been moving from one track to two.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby jonnhrr » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:00 pm

There is a plan for double tracking in Indiana although I don't know what the current status is.

The project has a web site: http://www.doubletrack-nwi.com/

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Re: South Shore Track

Postby dinwitty » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:45 pm

There was a Bailey siding east of Baileytown that was removed in the forties. In the mean time a few team tracks removed. Some existing sidings are long enough for freight trains to have a double track effect.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby Tadman » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:14 pm

There was quite a lot of ROW between Gary and MC built with space for double track but never actually layed. The time the property has seen double track reduction was the rebuild of Kensington interlocking, which was originally double track. It was simplified around 1982 because "trains were going away". About five years ago, it was rebuilt to double track as it turns out we need trains a bit more than we thought in 1982.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:42 pm

I'd consider Kensington a special case since the South Shore's connection began as the Michigan Central connection to the IC. If I recall correctly there were four tracks to the east (two CSS, two MC) merging in to the two ladder tracks south of the station. With the removal of the Michigan Central the traffic was reduced to South Shore passenger and freight trains. Even with the 1982 changes the South Shore's double track ran right up to the interlocking.

The 2011 changes turned the interlocking into a single track connection for track 1 across the diamonds to Metra south of the Kensington station and a second connection for track to through the CN interlocking to Metra north of the Kensington station. Shortly after the new interlocking was completed NICTD stopped using the Kensington station and now uses the CN route to bypass the station with inbound trains. This also removed conflicts between South Shore Freight and NICTD trains.

I have a hard time calling 1982 the removal of double track since the K&E line remained double track all the way to the interlocking. But NICTD does get credit for the 2011 improvements since NICTD paid for the reconstruction and the second path.

Historical: Prior to connecting to the Michigan Central line the South Shore turned north and ran parallel to the Illinois Central line where passengers could transfer between South Shore and Illinois Central trains.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby erie910 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:36 pm

I followed jonnhrr's suggested link to see the proposed double-tracking plan. It includes removal of Michigan City street-running. One stated reason for so doing is safety; intermingling trains and automobiles in the street is inherently dangerous. It would be interesting to compare the collision statistics of the Michigan City street-running segment with any other similar-length segments of the line. One would think that street-running is more dangerous, but let's let the statistics tell the truth on this. I can understand that there is a time savings to eliminate street-running, and also that there's a maintenance cost reduction because of trapped moisture which will rot ties faster or road deicing salt which will cause more rapid rail corrosion, but is safety a valid reason? I wonder what the collision rates per mile were when the SS ran in East Chicago's and South Bend's streets.

It would also be interesting to compare the collision statistics of the SS with those of other cities which have street-running, such as Toronto.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:31 pm

erie910 wrote:One would think that street-running is more dangerous, but let's let the statistics tell the truth on this.
It sounds like you are saying your statement isn't the truth.

So far this year two out of the three train vs road vehicle accidents on NICTD occurred on 11th St. In 2016 half of the road vehicle accidents occurred on 11th St.

You can do your own research for your other questions.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:50 am

erie910 wrote:It would also be interesting to compare the collision statistics of the SS with those of other cities which have street-running, such as Toronto.


In Toronto you are talking streetcars which is a whole different situation. They can brake much faster than commuter trains for one thing.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby Tadman » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:20 am

It's not just accident rates. You've also got the excessive maintenance costs of street running and the slow speeds. I can't believe it has taken this long and this many consultants to not arrive at an answer. There are two very viable and quiet mainlines around downtown. It's not like you're asking for trackage rights on a busy railroad, CSX probably has 3-4 trains/day and Amtrak has 4 in each direction plus a few NS and CSS locals. You're also looking at building minimal track, with the northerly alternative on existing ROW.

But we keep thinking and consulting and then coming up with real wizard ideas like "let's tear up 11th street!".
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:01 pm

Tadman wrote:It's not just accident rates. You've also got the excessive maintenance costs of street running and the slow speeds. I can't believe it has taken this long and this many consultants to not arrive at an answer. There are two very viable and quiet mainlines around downtown. It's not like you're asking for trackage rights on a busy railroad, CSX probably has 3-4 trains/day and Amtrak has 4 in each direction plus a few NS and CSS locals. You're also looking at building minimal track, with the northerly alternative on existing ROW.

But we keep thinking and consulting and then coming up with real wizard ideas like "let's tear up 11th street!".

Trail Creek Draw.

(Which shouldn’t even be an issue, and Amtrak should have long ago laid a second track alongside NICTD and moved to a SOB-MCI-CHI routing for all of its eastern trains... but community opposition I suppose.)
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:33 pm

jonnhrr wrote:
erie910 wrote:It would also be interesting to compare the collision statistics of the SS with those of other cities which have street-running, such as Toronto.

In Toronto you are talking streetcars which is a whole different situation. They can brake much faster than commuter trains for one thing.

And yet Toronto has paid out $85 million in damages in a year due to collisions. It is a big system.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:47 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Tadman wrote:It's not just accident rates. You've also got the excessive maintenance costs of street running and the slow speeds. I can't believe it has taken this long and this many consultants to not arrive at an answer. There are two very viable and quiet mainlines around downtown. It's not like you're asking for trackage rights on a busy railroad, CSX probably has 3-4 trains/day and Amtrak has 4 in each direction plus a few NS and CSS locals. You're also looking at building minimal track, with the northerly alternative on existing ROW.

But we keep thinking and consulting and then coming up with real wizard ideas like "let's tear up 11th street!".

Trail Creek Draw.

(Which shouldn’t even be an issue, and Amtrak should have long ago laid a second track alongside NICTD and moved to a SOB-MCI-CHI routing for all of its eastern trains... but community opposition I suppose.)

11th St is the best path for NICTD. The CSX path would be workable but no railroad is interested in giving trackage rights to NICTD ... it would need to be a separate set of tracks next to CSX. So it would involve a lot more property acquisition. Amtrak doesn't want NICTD on their rails and crossing Trail Creek would require a tall bridge or a draw bridge as long as it remains a navigable waterway.

Amtrak next to NICTD? On 11th St? I don't believe the community would go for that.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby Tadman » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:49 am

See, this is what I mean. We have a bunch of excuses that could be mitigated by that excuse-mitigating juice called "money".

Yes, Trail Creek bridge is a pain. A heavy overhaul and a second track would make a big diff. Given that both parties draw plenty of money from the feds, the feds long ago should've said "wow it is the silliest idea ever to have two parallel passenger lines in frickin Indiana!".

Yes, CSX probably doesn't want South Shore trains as a matter of doctrine. What else don't they want? The Grand Rapids line. It sees perhaps one local and one coal train plus 371/2 every day. Would they give up rights for free? No. But on a half-dead "main" line, trackage rights would go a long way to viability.

There's thirty good reasons we can make ____ solution work, sometimes you have to Just Do It instead of making excuses. At one time there was thirty good reasons not to start the Acela program or buy the Kalamazoo-Detroit line for Amtrak or anything else that's been accomplished.
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Re: South Shore Track

Postby justalurker66 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:43 pm

If you want to blow your entire budget on one bridge use the Trail Creek alignment. The LIMITED money available will go a lot further following the current alignment through town.

You are right ... all it takes is money. The government doesn't have unlimited funds. Sometimes Congressional spending makes it seem like the government has plenty of money. Never forget where that money is coming from. Taxpayers like me!
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